Would you hire a private chef for a dinner party?
PUBLISHED: 00:00 23 September 2016
David Hayden has cooked for the rich and famous.Now, he creates exquisite food for sophisticated dinner parties as Mairead Mahon discovered.
The idea of engaging a private chef to prepare a dinner party in our own home may seem a privilege reserved only for the wealthy and well known. However, as the ground swell in popularity for the dinner party continues to rise, award-winning private gourmet chef, David Hayden, knows this is no longer the case. It seems many of us want to enjoy the luxury of a top chef in our own home.
David, who is based in Worsley, has trained in top restaurants in London and the Channel Islands, winning awards for his dishes along the way. He was introduced to the world of private dining when he was asked to be a private chef for a multi-millionaire who had a house in the renowned Sandy Lane resort in Barbados.
‘Yes, I began in style,’ laughs David. ‘And although it was very exacting-everything had to be perfect - it really stood me in good stead. My client enjoyed eating locally sourced food and, as we were surrounded by beautiful waters, fish played a large part in that. I did everything from shanked crab to yellow fin tuna and pan fried turbot.
‘Back home, I still try to source food locally as much as possible: we’re lucky in the North West to have a fantastic array of local producers. I think that very first client would be pleased to see that his exacting standards live on.’
Armed with the knowledge of how to produce the perfect dinner party, David returned home and found that his services were soon in demand. Before long, he was travelling the length and breadth of the UK, to orchestrate the perfect evening for clients.
Those dinner party hosts have included business people like Simon Arora, CEO of B&M and Barbara and Brendan Ainscough of the Lancashire firm, Ainscough Cranes. Naturally, celebrities also feature with people like Anthony Cotton; Patricia Penrose; Denise Walsh; Danny Miller and Sky newscaster, Sam Washington on his books. Premiership footballers also feature heavily too. Joe Hart, Michail Antonio and Owen Hargreaves have all enlisted David’s help, heartened by the fact he is a chef who takes their nutritional requirements into account. Owen Hargreaves said he couldn’t, as an athlete, have asked for ‘a more perfect dining experience’.
It was a new experience for David though when he had to appear on set himself.
‘I like to stay behind the scenes but on this occasion, I had to come forward,’ he recalls. ‘It was for The Real Housewives of Cheshire and I had to prepare canapés and a dinner party. I just tried to concentrate on the food and luckily, it all worked out ok.
‘It must have done as one of the stars, Seema Malhotra, asked me to prepare a dinner party for her family.’
Despite the calibre of his client list, David said wealth isn’t a prerequisite to holding an impressive dinner party. It is more about getting things right and paying attention to detail.
‘No, money is not something you need,’ he said. ‘And, before you ask, you don’t need a swish kitchen either. I have cooked in kitchens in castles but I have also managed in a kitchen with two gas rings. Most fall somewhere in between.
‘People sometimes want a dinner for twenty, an intimate dinner for two or even a barbecue. Sometimes, I’m a prize in a charity auction, believe it or not, and I’ve met many regular clients that way.’
‘But it’s the food first and foremost that takes priority. I discuss a client’s needs and the needs of their guests. They can have as much or as little input as they want. Some people prefer to leave it all to me, others want a favourite recipe to be incorporated.’
David is well aware of the impact a good visual presentation can make: after all they do say that we eat with our eyes. In fact, that training began early for him, when mum Shelia put 10-year-old David in charge of decorating cheesecakes for the family supper.
‘The nicer it looked the quicker it got eaten,’ he said. ‘It is an early lesson I’ve never forgotten. Now, I always spend time thinking about how to present a dish, so that the taste buds start tingling before a fork is picked up.
‘I think about the plates it will be served on and if it show the dish to its best advantage. I have masses of plates and cutlery. At the moment, white china and modern styled cutlery is fashionable.
David also brings flowers and crisp linen - no paper serviettes here. He is often accompanied by a sommelier who can help him to serve as, for David, dining is an occasion that should be done in style. He’s practical too though and does the washing up before he leaves. Perfect!